Uchūsashi-neko, the space-pointing lucky cat

Teaching a lucky cat (maneki-neko 招き猫) to point at the International Space Station!

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Both an educational tool and a gimmicky desktop toy:
This hacked cyborg lucky cat is able to raise its arm and rotate on its base and point at celestial objects. The first aim is to make it wave when the ISS (International Space Station) is about to pass overhead, and then trace its orbit with its paw in real time!

It is powered by an on-board ESP8266 running MicroPython, and relies on a Python Webserver running PyEphem to calculate orbits and pointing directions.

This is a work in progress. The hardware is coming along nicely, the software part is about to start. More details to follow soon!

  • The pieces are there, now to connect them!

    Daniel03/20/2017 at 19:04 0 comments

    So, the basic components of the system are now working independently:

    • Servo and stepper control, including acceleration/deceleration ramp (no video yet!)
    • Reading magnetometer (for compass heading)
      This seems to be heavily affected by the nearby stepper, even when it's turned off! The compass is necessary to know what direction the cat is pointing at, to accurately trace the orbit of the object being tracked.
    • Set up a PythonAnywhere server to fetch ISS orbit data and compute the local azimuth and elevation using PyEphem

    The next step will be to make all these components work together and somehow filter/clean up the compass data :-)

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